Is there an obligation for the government to keep genetic files and to warn relatives who might share a bad gene?Is there an obligation for the government to keep genetic files and to warn...

Is there an obligation for the government to keep genetic files and to warn relatives who might share a bad gene?

Is there an obligation for the government to keep genetic files and to warn relatives who might share a bad gene?

Asked on by soman2006

6 Answers | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is an interesting question. I would say no. First of all, you mention obligation. People would be very wary of the government keeping a genetic database for all of us. I can see why. People get very cautious about anything relating to genes, and som people consider genetic testing genocide, because it will eliminate certain populations, such as those with genetic conditions like Down's.
mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In concurrence with post #2, do we not have enough government intrusion already?  We are approaching Brave New World enough already. Certainly, an individual has an ethical responsibility to inform relatives and those whom this "bad gene" may affect.  Otherwise, no.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is a very pertinent question given the way that scientific advances have created massive ethical questions. We need to be very careful of the slippery slope argument. How far do we wish to take revealing our genetic code? Should we tell the person that we are planning to marry that our children might be more genetically disposed to have cancer, for example? I personally think such decisions must not be legislated, but should be left up to personal choice.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

We should also consider that genetics is not that straight forward.  Just because the gene runs in the family does not mean that the person will have the disorder.  Even if both parents have a recessive gene, they still have a chance of having a child without that gene.  I agree that we have an obligation to our own families to share information, but for the government to keep genetic records of all its citizens is unrealistic. 

megan-bright's profile pic

megan-bright | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

It would be detrimental to have the government privy to this type of sensitive and personal information. The information could surely be used to discriminate against individuals for various purposes. Also, it's not exactly feasible for the government to keep such records on so many individuals, and then notify relatives. That is an overwhelming task, and one which would be expensive and time consuming to properly implement.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would argue that there is a moral obligation on the part of the individual person to inform his or her relatives that they might share a "bad" gene.  However, there is no reason that this obligation should be made a matter of law or that it should become something that is done by the government.

Individual people surely ought to warn relatives of possible "bad" genes.  It is simply a matter of courtesy and generosity to one's relatives.  However, having the government dictate which things must be disclosed and having the government look through our genetic tests to determine if we have these genes is surely an excessive intrusion into our most personal affairs.

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